Belonging Interventions

Ecological Belonging Intervention

Another major feature of the Pitt Belongingness Initiative involves teaching instructors to deliver an in-class exercise at the beginning of the term that is designed to change classroom norms about the meaning of adversity and belonging in that course.

We have focused thus far on large, gateway STEM courses. Our approach begins with the assumption that different courses and different disciplines likely create different sources of belonging uncertainty. Research has found, for example, that while some STEM fields can produce a “chilly-climate” for women (e.g., some engineering, physics, and computer science courses) others do not.

Our approach to the in-class belonging initiatives is to tailor our approach for each course so that we target the sources. The first studies using this approach were recently published (Binning et al., 2020).

Below are some figures of the results we have observed to date. Note that the intervention closed the ethnicity gap in Biology and the gender gap in Physics courses. We are planning to continue to scale-up this approach in new classes at Pitt in the coming years.

Gender gap in physics chart

biology intervention on the ethnicity gap chart